The African Slave Trade: The Indian Ocean

Arab slave trade
Figure 1.--This photograph, taken in 1868, shows the Arab slave trade in Indian Ocean. We do not have details about who took the photograph. It is difficult to tell, but it may have been taken on an Aran dhow. We see both the Arab slavers and the enslaved Africans. Notice the large number of very young boys.

The Indian Ocean from the early Islamic conquests (8th century) to the European voyages of discovery (15th century) was essentially an Arab lake dominatd by armed Arab traders, contested at times by the Persians. One of the important commodities transported over the Arab-controlled Indian Ocean was enslaved Africans. The principal port of embarcation for Afrians taken by Arab slavers was entrepôt Zanzibar. Not a lot is known about Zanzibar and the slave trade until the 19th century. By the time the Royal Navy moved against the Arab Indian Ocean slave trade, it was largely in the hands of the Sultanate of Zanzibar. The Sultanate's expanding plantation operations in the early 19th century were worked mostly with slave labor. The profits fom the East African plantations induced the Sultan of Oman, Sayyid Said, to relocated his capital from Oman to the east African island of Zanzibar (1840). The Sultan's sovereignty at the time extended from southern Somalia to northern Mozambique. One source estimates that 1850 when the British Royal Navy was just beginning to turn its attention to the Indian Ocean slave trade that Arab traders were shipping about 20,000 Africans to slave markets annually. An even larger number of Africans would have been killed in the attacks taking slaves and on the sad columns of Africans that winded their way from the interior to the Indian Ocean coast. The mortalities in the Eastern slave trade were especally high because the Arabs wre primarily after women and children which meant the men had to be killed. This was not, however, a largely naval problem. The Arab slave trade had once been focused on bringing slaves to Middle Easten markets. Now with the growth of palm oil and spice plantations, there was a need for large number of slaves in East Africa itself.

Arab Naval Dominance

The Arabs from an early point expanded their land campaigns to the Sea. The first such operations were in the Mediterranean aand the Arabs seized Sicily (652) and defeated the main Byzantine fleet (655). The Byzantines managed to stave off total defeat at the battke of Syllaeum (678), employing greek fire to destroy an Arab fleet beseiging Constantinople. The Islamic Caliphate became the dominant naval power in the Mediterranean Sea (7th-13th centuries). Hasan al-Rammah in Syria invented the torpedo which was to become a principal naval weapon (1275). Hasan's torpedo ran on water with a rocket system fueled by gunpowder. It proved very effective. The Arabs also ventured into the Indian Ocean with their increasing naval capability. At times the Indian Ocean was an Arab lake. At other times the Arabs had to contest or share the Indian Ocean sea lanes.

China

Chinese naval activities in the Indian Ocean were at times significant, probably greater than revealed by available documentation. The Tang Dynasty had maritime ties in the Indian ocean as far west as what is now Sri Lanka, India, Islamic Persia, Arabia, and Somalia in East Africa. The Somali contacts may have been because the Arabs were well established in Somalia and not the rest of East Africa. There are also reports of Arab sea trade with China dating from the Tang Dynasty.

Persia

The Greek-Persian Wars (5th-4th centuries BC) were the first naval wars to invilve large-scale naval operations. The Wars were fought in the Aegian. We know nothing about Persian naval operations in the Indian Ocean during this period. Nor do we have any information about Persian naval power during the Islamic period before the arrival of the Europeans. We do know that the Persians were active in the Indian Ocean because a group of Shirazi Persians reached Zanzibar (10th century).

India

Indian naval power seems to have been oriented more to the east than west. The Chola Dynasty of medieval India was the most maritime kingdom in India. It for a time was a dominant force in the Indian Ocean. The Chola conducted maritime trade and had diplomatic trade with Song China. Rajaraja Chola I (985 to 1014) and his son Rajendra Chola I (1014-42) of the Dravidian kingdom (southern India), despatched a notable naval expedition to the east. They occupied substantial parts of southeastvAsia (Burma, Malaya, and Sumatra). The Cholas are sometimes noted as the first Indian rulers to build a major fleet, there are some earlier references. Narasimhavarman Pallava I reported has a naval force to convoy his army to Sri Lanka to help an ally, Manavarman, reclaim his lost the throne. Shatavahanahas were known to persue operations in Southeast Asia. Sea operations seem to have been more mercantile than military. Very little is known about Indian naval battles. Vessels were, however, protected by armed crews because of piracy. Some historians believe that they would have been armed to a similar degree as the Arabs.

Europeans

The European voyages of discovery (15th century) resulted in new naval forces entering the Indian Ocean. The decisive naval for the Indian Ocean occurred at Diu (1509), an Indian port. The Portuguese fleet confronted a combined Muslim fleet for control of the Indian Ocean. The Muslim fleet was composed of naval vessels from the Mamlûk Burji Sultanate of Egypt, Ottoman Empire, the Zamorin of Calicut and the Sultan of Gujarat. The Republic of Venice and the Republic of Ragusa (Dubrovnik) aided the Muslims with technical assistance. Venice benefited with the trade through the Middle East and was completely bypassed with the Portuguese opening the Indian Ocean.) The Portuguese had rounded the Cape of Good Hope and reached the Indian Ocean earlier. This threatened the valuable Islamic trade mononopoly with the East. The Portuguese victory was the beginning of Western naval dominance. The battle preceeded Lepanto (1571) in which Ottoman naval power in the Mediterranean would be broken by several decades. An Ottoman Muslim victory would have prevented European colonization of India and could have lead to expanded Ottomon/Muslim influence on the sub-continent.

Economics

Basically by controlling either the Indian Ocean or ports on the Arabian Sea, the Arabs and Ottomons were able to monpolize trade with the East. If the Europeans wanted luxury goods from the East (porcelin, silk, spice, and others), they had to trade with the Arabs and Ottomons. This was an extremely profitable trade for the Muslim powers. Notice that the bulk of the goods were products from the East and not products the Ottomand Arabs were producing themselves. One product that did not come from the East was slaves--almost entirely enslaved Africans.

Arab Penetration of Africa

Arab traders brought Islam to East Africa soon after the success of the religion in Arabia. Islam did not, however, at first penertate beyond coastal trading settlements. The Sudan and Somaliland did gradually become both Arabized and Islamized, primarily through the influence of Arab traders. At a much slower pace Islam entered West Africa. Here rather than maritime tradersas in East Africa, it was Arab merchants traveling with camel caravans that crossed the Sahara. Muslim sultanates were established in Mali and Timbuctu in the West and Harar in the East. These trading centers also became important centers of Islamic leaming. The Arabs were the first to enter the African slave trade. Arab traders gradually established trading posts along the African Indian Ocean ports. Slaves could be sold to the Arab traders operating from Indian Ocean ports. As the powers of the Arabs increased they began actual raids on villages to seize blacks that could be sold in Middle Eastern slave markets.

Poorly Studied Subject

Much more is known about the European segment of the African slave trade, in part because records are much more readily available. And there is much more human evidence of the Atlantic slave trade--namely the large Afro-American populations in Brazil, the United States, and other Western Hemisphere countries. Much less is known about the Arab segment of the African slave trade.

Controversy

The history of the slave trade has focused on the European Atlantic slave trade. Much less attention has been given to slavery in the Muslim world. There are several reasons for this. One, the long history of Muslim slavery dating from the very early years of the Arab expansion. Few records are availabe from the early historical periods which bega in the early medieval era. This makes it especially difficult to assess the dimensions of slavery in early Muslim society. Two, the fact that slavery is firmly rooted in the Koran means that it cannot be question and thus Islamic scholars have tended to avoid the question. Three, slavery is not something Muslim historians want to honestly address. Western scholars now address a range of historical issues (colonialism, war, racism, nationalism, religion, ect.) with often brutal honesty, even if reflects poorly on their society/country. Thi is not a common practice among Muslim scholars. Nor isf it a safe practive. Muslim writers who publish books which reflect poorly on Islam or even Muslim society can be putting their lives in danger. Another fator here is that some in West see work on Arab/Muslim slaveryas an attempt to lessen the onus placed upon the Atlantic slave trade. Here another facror is the extensive documentary evidence available on the Atlantic slave trade compared to the must more limited information available on the Arb slave trade. Historians in paticular have widely different estimates on the dimensions of the Arab African slave trade.

African Political Structure

The African political structure is difficukt to describe over the very long period in which the Arab slave trade in Africa took place. The rade was conducted over 12 centuries, riughl;y from 650-1900. It is important, however, to roughly sketch the political structure to understand the ebvironment in which both Europeans and Arabs conducted the slave trade. North Africa was conquered by the Arabs from a very early stage of the Islamic expansion. Arab traders penetrated into sub-Saharan Africa through desert caravans, the Nilr River, and by estanlish trading postas along the Indian coast of the continent. The black African kingdoms they encountered as they moved into the interior varied over time. Europeans had little access to Africa, blocked for centuries by Arab control of North Africa. This only began to change in the 15th cenntury with the European voyages of discovery with the Portuguese edgeing their way down the African coast. Like the Arabs along the Indian Ocean coast, European influence along the Atlantic coast was first limited to coastal regions.

Arabs in East Africa

The Arabs during the Islamic expansion began setting up trading posts along the Indian Ocean coast of Africa. One of the most prominant of these posts was Zanzibar. Zanzibar (including Pemba and othr small islands) wasttractive for a number of reasons. One it was an island and for Arab traders with naval vessels this provided an elment of security that no coastal port could offer. Two spices (especially cloves) flourished on the island and these spices were valuable trade goods. The history of Zanzibar is a major story in itself. It hasbeen controlled by Arab and Persina Muslims, Muslim Africans, and the Portugese. At the time the British began to move against the Indian Ocean slave trade, Zanzibar was controlled by an Arab sultan and ws the center of the Indian Ocean slave trade.

Capture Areas

Arab slavers would capture Africans in the interior where there were no political units able to safeguard people. Also they obtained captives from African states engaged in war or captive taking. Some of the important areas where slaves were captured included: the lake Nyasa area of the Great Lakes region, the Bahr el Ghazal region, and Ehtiopia. This of course fluctuated over the 12 centuries the trade was conducted.

Obtaining African Captives

The slave trade in East Africa was carried out by agents of the Sultanate of Zanzibar in cooperation with some African tribes. The Arab slavers had various ways of obtaining Africans. Armed gangs of Arabs and Muslim Africans would conduct raids and simply seize Africans. This might be done surrepticiously or by outright attacks on villages. Slaversould often raid villages at night and simply killthose who resisted or tried to run away. The Arab slavers might also use trade goods such as cloth trinkets and metal goods to barter for captives from local chiefs. African tribes and kingdoms were not uncommonly involved in warfare with neighboring groups. Thus they often had captives taken in war. In some cases knowing that there was a eady market for these captives helped to promote raids and attacks among African groups. Arab slavers would play African tribes against each other. The tribal wars helped to weaken the Africans kindoms and made it asier for the slavers to operate.

Routes

The Indian Ocean slave trade consisted of two primary routes. There was a northern route, part of the Arab slave trade, and a southern route dominated by the Portuguese in Mozambique. We of course know most about the 19th century when the British began their effort to end he slave trade. The nature of the trade in the 19th century was significantly different because many of he captive Afriucans were employed in Africa itself rather than being transported to North Africa and the Middle East.

The Indian Ocean--Northern Route

The Indian Ocean from the early Islamic conquests (8th century) to the European voyages of discovery (15th century) was essentially an Arab lake dominatd by armed Arab traders, contested at times by the Persians. One of the important commodities transported over the Arab-controlled Indian Ocean was enslaved Africans. The principal port of embarcation for Afrians taken by Arab slavers was entrepôt Zanzibar. Not a lot is known about Zanzibar and the slave trade until the 19th century. By the time the Royal Navy moved against the Arab Indian Ocean slave trade, it wasargely in the hands of the Sultanate of Zanzibar. The Sultanate's expanding plantation operations in the early 19th century were worked mostly with slave labor. Theprofits fom the East African plantations induced the Sultan of Oman, Sayyid Said, to relocated his capital from Oman to the east African island of Zanzibar (1840). The Sultan's sovereignty at the time extended from southern Somalia to northern Mozambique. One source estimates that 1850 when the British Royal Navy was just beginning to turn its attention to the Indian Ocean slave trade that Arab traders were shipping about 20,000 Africans to slave markets annually. An even larger number of Africans would have been killed in the attacks taking slaves and on the the sad columns of Africans that winded their way from the interior to the Indian Ocean coast. The mortalities in the Eastern slave trade were especally high because the Arabs wre primarily after women and children which meant the men had to be killed. This was not, however, a largely naval problem. The Arab slave trade had once been focused on bringing slaves to Middle Easten markets. Now with the growth of palm oil and spice plantations, there was a need for large number of slaves in East Africa itself.

Indian Ocean--Southern Route

The 19th century East African slave trade actually had two destinct parts. There was a northern slave trade discussed above and a southern trade. The southern trade centered on the Portuguese colony of Mozambique. [Beachey, p. 13.] The Portuguee trade supplied sugar plantations in Brazil, Cuba and the French Indian Ocean Islands (Reunion and Mauritius). Slavers would capture Africans in the interior of the colony and march them to ports like Quelimane. The French demand for slaves outstripped the supply available in Mozambique. This caused the French to move into th Arab northern trade. One source suggests tha the French needed about 3,000 slaves annually in the 1770s. A French slave trader, Morice, signed a treaty with the Sultan of Kilwa to obtain a 1,000 slaves annually (1776). The French slave trade decined with the onset of the Napoleonic Wars because of the Royal Navy's control of the seas. After the Napoleoniv Wars ended, the French slave trade gradually revived. One estimate suggests that after the Napoleonic Wars about 10,000 Mozambique Africans were transported to Brazil and about 7,000 to French Indian ocean teritories (1815-30). [Beachy, p. 13.]

Chronology

The Indian Ocean slave trade predates the Islamic era. The trade must have existed in antiquity, but nothing is known about the trade before tghe Common Era. There are written records mentioning the trade that date back to the 2nd century AD. The earliest knon reference is noted in "Pleriplus of the Erythraean Sea". A small trade is described. With the rapid Aran conquest of the Middle East (7th century), the Indian Ocean became an Arab, set contested at times by the Persians. It is known that the Arabs condusted a slave trade into the 20th century. Very little is known about the dimensions of that trde, especially during the early years. Some authors described substantial shipments into southern Iraq duing the 8th and 9th century. We also know that there were substantial numbers involved in the 19th century when the Sultan of Zanzibar opened palm oil and spice plantations in East Africa.

Ports

The principal port of embarcation for Afrians taken by Arab slavers was entrepôt Zanzibar, Kilwa, and Quilimane. Not a lot is known about Zanzibar and the slave trade until the 19th century. Another important port was Mombassa.

Transport

The Arabs often transported captive Africans on "dhows". A dhow is the traditional Arab sailing vessel used in the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, and Indian Ocean. They were sailing ships with one or more lateen sails. A typical dhow had crews of about 12 men. Larger dhows would have crews of to 30 men. An average dhow could carry 10 to 25 slaves. There were larger 80 to 100 ton dhows. These might be able to carry 100 to 150 slaves. During the 19th century when large numbers of Africans were enslaved, there seem to have been dhows specifically devoted to slaving. In other years it seems likely that many dhows might have carried a variry of cargo, including a few slaves. As many of the captive Africans seem to have been women and children, the security oroblem was not as great as in the Atlntic slave trade.

Markets

Indian Ocean slavers had a range of markets in which to sell their captives. The markets varied over time. Is it generally thought that the primary market was the Arab world (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, and Iraq). Limited documentation makes this only a probability at this time. We are less sure about Persia. Such shipments may at times have been substantial. There appear to have been sales to India, but these seem to have been limited. The Ottomans were another market, but weare unsure as to the dimensions of this trade and here the desert caravan routes throughthe Sahara may have been more important. The French Indian Ocean islands seem to have been important in the 18 and 19th century. Brazil also seems to have been an important market. The market shifted significantly in the 19th century with East Africa and Indian Ocean islands becoming more important than ever before (Pemba, Madagascar, Reunion, and Zanzibar).

Dimensions

Quantifying the numbers involved is much more difficult than the Atlantic slave trade. This is because the Arab slave trade began much earlier, about the 8th century and few if any records exist for this early period. The slaves taken by the Arabs were for the most part not worked on plantations or other institutions for which records were kept. Estimating the dimensions of the Eastern slave trade is difficult because of the scarcity of documentation. Some estimates that the Arab Indin Ocean slave trade over the 12 centuries it operated may have totaled about 4 milliom people. They estimated that annual shipments wee normally at arelatively low level, perhaps 500-700 people, but much higher numbers during the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 19th centuries when the demand for agricultural labor spiked. For most of tge tears the trade was conducted, estimated should betaken as highly speculative educated guesses. We do, however, know much more about the 19th century. Historians estimate shipmenrs of 3,000 to 20,000 captive Africans annually. There are much higher estimates. Most come from British anti-slavery groups during the 19th century. They must be viewed with considerable caution. They were working to enspire more aggressive action by the British Government and aactic in this effort was to exagerate the poroblem. One British report suggested 63,000 slaves annually. [Anti-Slavery Reporter, October 15 1867, 231.] Other reports from abti-slavery groups were higher, substantially higher. One more reliable source estimates that 1850 when the British Royal Navy was just beginning to turn its attention to the Indian Ocean slave trade that Arab traders were shipping about 20,000 Africans to slave markets annually. An even larger number of Africans would have been killed in the attacks taking slaves and on the the sad columns of Africans that winded their way from the interior to the Indian Ocean coast. The mortalities in the Eastern slave trade were especally high because the Arabs wre primarily after women and children which meant the men had to be killed. Some estimate of the Africans who were enslaved by Arab slavers could be as high as 14 million people. Other estimates are substantially lower.

Intra-African Trade

This was not, however, a largely naval problem. The Arab slave trade had once been focused on bringing slaves to Middle Easten markets. Now with the growth of palm oil and spice plantations, there was a need for large number of slaves in East Africa itself. Some of the slaves were moved by sea, from northern Mozambique and Tanganika to the plantations in Kenya ans Somalia.

Demand for Slaves

The Eastern slave trade differed from the Atlantic slave trade in that there were many more women involved. The reason for this was that the sex trade was an important part of the Muslim market for slaves. The use of slaves, however, depended upon the chronological era and the country wherethey were enslaved. They were also used for labor, largely agricultural labor. This was especially true in the 19th century. During this last period of the slave trade, the gender disparity shifted and the Indian Ocean slave trade became more like the Atlantic slave trade with men in demand for agricultural labor.

Women and girls

The sex trade was an important part of the Muslim market for slaves. For that reason not only women were in large demand, but young girls as well. It is difficult to say just what proportion of women and girls were usd in the sex trade. Given the perpondarance of femnale slaves thatiseemso have been a very important part of the demand. There were other uses for female slaves, including domestic servants.

Boys

As far as we can tell, slave hunters selling in West captured men, women, and children. We have never heard of slavers crossing the Atlantic and delivering cargos of all young boys to Brazil, the Caribean, or Nirth America. We have found evidence of Arab slavers collecting just boys and slavers in the Indin Ocean delivering just boys to Arab slave markets. We do not yet fully understand this dichotmy and why very young boys were so in demand. We have not yet found similar evidence of just very young girls being captured, but that is not to say it was not done. We are still collecting evidence. The African boys taken by the early Arab slavers destined for Middle-Eastern (Muslim) markets were often castrated before puberty (at the ages of 8-12 years). Boys especially younger boys were not useful as workers. And they would have to be fed and raised for several years before they were useful. The purpose was to fill the demand for eunuchs. No one knows the numbers involved. Estimates suggest that hundreds of thousands of boys suffered castration. We do not know where this operation took place. We suspect that it was in the slave markets and not in the African bush. One source maintains that the operation took place at the borders of Muslim states because Islamic law did not allow mutilation of slaves and thus it was done before the slave caravans crossed the border. We can not yet confirm this nor quantify the number of individuals involved. We believe it was primarily pre-pubesent boys were boys that were castrated, but that too has to be confirmed. It is believed that a very large number of those castrated bleed to death or died of infection because of lack of medical knowledge the unsanitary conditions involved. We do not know when this practice ended. The primary market for Africa slaves during the medieval era was the Arab Caliphate which at its peak dominated the Middle East and North Africa. Some were also sold in Persian markets. The expanding Ottoman Empire conquered the Arab world (16th century). Slavery in the Ottoman Empire was a fully legal institution and important element of the Empire's economy and society. One aspect of Ottoman slavery was sexual slavery. One sorce reports that some 20 percent of the population of Constantinople were slaves (1609). The Ottomans as their power declined relative to the European states prepared and increasingly caoable of protect Christian captives, banned the enslavement of Christians from the Caucasus and Balkans (early-19th century). The enslavement of other peoples continued. The Ottomans made several efforts to ban slavery, had little real impact. As a result, slavery continued in both the Turkish and Arab areas of the Empitre inyto the 20th century. One source reports slaves, mostly females being openly sold (1908). We know that capturing and enslaving African boys was not just a medieval practice. We do continue to see boys being captured and delivered to slave markets into the late-19th century. We see boys here aboard an Arab ship in the Indian Ocean (1868) (figure 1). We see these boys being driven in long trecks along inland routes by Arab slave traders, oftem Arabized Africans. A French source reports "Slave traders through the inland trails"about 1880. The French report that each young slave was worth 100 to 150 francs--a substantial sum in the late-19th century. Unfortunately we do not know where the ohotograph was taken and where the boys were being taken. We beliece that they arevheaded for Arab slave markets, probably in East Africa, but can not yet confirm that. And we note Arab ships filled with boys headed for Arab slave markets. The British Royal Navy reported seizing Arab dhows with cargoes of pre-pubesent boys. How common this was we are not sure. One example was the Royal Navy seizure of two Arab dhows (1896). They were brought into Muscat and the boys freed (1896).

Men

Men were involved in the Eastern Slave Trade to a much lesser degree than the Atlantic slave trade. There was not the demand for agricutural labor in the Middle East as was the case in the Western Hemishere. As a result, the Arab slavers seemed to have killed the men in large numbers, knowing that there was relatively little demand for them. The men had to be killed because otherwise they would attempt to free thier captive wives and children. This is not to say that men were not also enslaved. There were requirements for labor, especially agricultural labor. Many slaves never left Africa and were employed on date palm and spice plantations in East Africa, especially in Somalia and on Zanzibar. In the Persian Gulf region slaves were used as soldiers, concubines, pearl divers and domestic servants, and enuchs. Slaves in southern Iraq they worked mainly as farm laborers. [Ricks, p. 65.]

Africans in the Arab World

Most historians of the slave trade believe that more Africans were captured and sent the Muslim world (primarily Arab countries and Persia) than were shipped to the entire Western Hemisphere by Europans. The Eastern Trade began earlier and lasted much longer than the Atlantic slave trade. Yet the human evidence of the slave trade is not readily apparent in Arab countries and Iran. Given the number enslaved one is attempted to ask what happened to these people. One assessment claims, "Yet the near east today has almost no descendants of these slaves. Their treatment – obviously so for the thousands who were made harem guards but apparently also for the rest – seems not to have been of a kind to favour it. The much greater ease of obtaining fresh slaves, relative to any part of the western hemisphere, seems highly pertinent to this." We know tha huge numbers of Africans were killed by Arab slavers in the process of obtaining and transporting slaves. The question now becomes what happened to the large number of slaves that reached the Arab slave markets. And also what hapened to their descendents.

Slave Market Operations

We have only limited information at this time on how slave markets were operated. The slaves were displayed naked or nearly naked so they could be inspected by potential buyers. Muslim buyers (usually men) would inspect the human merchandise. African women and young girls were probed in a demeaning fashion by male buyers to determine the sexual worth of their potential purchases. Some sources suggest that these more intimated inspections were dine in more seclude locatiins than the oopen market. Muslim women also had slaves. I believe the actual purchases, however, were usualy done by heir husbands or other male representative. But here we still have very limited information. Slave who did not sell were killed. African slaves by the 19th century were bing sold in large numbers in African markets (especially Zanzibar and Mombassa). This shift was the result of the development of plantations along the coast of what is now modern Somalia and Kenya and on Zanzibar and slave labor was needed for these plantations.

Arab Role in the European Slave Trade

The Arabs were not only involved with the Eastern Slave Trade, but also played an important role in the Atlantic Slave Trade. Europeans for the most part restricted their activities to the coast, primarily the Atlantic coast. Rarely did Europeans go inland into the interior. They did take their ships uporiver, but long overland treks were rare. Thus the Europeans purchased their slaves at relativedly secure coastal forts or fortified trading centers. They were odten purchased from African rulers who found the slave trade to be a profitable activity. At first African rulers sold criminals and war capotives, but graqdually African rulers became more involved. Another major source of slaves for the Europeas was Arab slave raiders. The term Arab is used here not only to mean wthnic Arabs, but Arabized (meaning Islamicized) Africans. Arans who moved into East Africa acquired many African women and over time a substantial population of Arabized Africans developed, especially in East Africa. The same process occurred in the Saharn areas of West Africa, Unlike Europeans, the Arab slave traders operated deep in the interior, capturing Africans by raiding villages. The captives were ten brought to the coasts iun long coffels where they were porchased by Europeans in west and Arabs in the east and north.

Comparison with the European Atlantic Slave Trade

There was a major difference between the European and African slave trade and that was the purposes for which the slaves were to be used. The Europeans did not bring the slaves back to Europe. There was no need for a working class in Europe. Europe had more than a sufficent population. In fact the European population at the time of the slave trade was emigrating to the Americas and other areas. What was needed was workers in the largely unpopulated New World. This was especially important after European diseases had dramatically reduced the Native American population. The Arabs on the other hasnd did bring Africa slaves back to their countries. Here there was a well established peasant class. As a result, the Africans brought to Arab countries were less intended for field labor. A major purpose was sexual pleasure which is why so many of the Africans taken by Arab slavers were women and children.

Ending the Indian Ocean Slave Trade

The Indian Ocean slave trade was as in the Atlantic, primarily ended by British diplomats and the Royal Navy. This was primarily the result of the British abolition movement which grew out of the Chriustian churches. Unlike Christianity there was no abolitionist movement which developed out of Islam in Arab or other Muslim countries. In fact, slavery continued in Muslim, mostly Arab contries, into the 20th century. From a very early point, the British realized that the key to ending the Indian Ocean slave trade was Zanzibar. Unlike the Atlantic slave trade which was consucted along the lengthy African coast, a very large part of the Indian Ocean slave trade was conducted through Zanzibar. This gave the British who could use the powerful Royal Navy a great advantage. Zanzibar becamne important because it was an island. Thus the Arabs could easily defend it. Trading outposts on the mainland were vulnerable to African attacks. While the island location was realatively safe from Africam attack, it was particularly vulnerable to the Royal Navy. Thus British diplomats were able to exert considerable influence in Zanzibar. The first diplomatic success was the Moresby Treaty (1822). From that first success, the British gradually pressed the Sultan of Zanzibar for more restriuctions. Royal Navy patrols at sea also pressed the Sultan and slave traders. It was, however, not tell the Scramble for Africa and the European colonization of Africa that the Indian Ocean slave trade was finally ended.
http://histclo.com/Act/work/slave/ast/arab/kor-sla.html

Black Americans and Islam

Since World War II, quite a number of black Americans have embraced Islam. Many apparently do so because they associate slavery with white Christian Europe. As far as I can tell, many that do so are unaware of the nature and dimnsions of the Arab slave trade. It seems understandable that many African-Americans would want to shed their white Anglo-Saxon Protestant "slave" names. Yet what most seem to be doing is to adopt Arab names rather than actual African names. They are in effect giving up one set of slave names for another set. Embracing African names and culture seems unsderstandable. Many Americans of European ancestry are fascnated by their European heritage. What seems difficult to understand is why American blacks are so eager to embrace both the Arab names and the Islamic faith of the slavers who wreaked such havoc throughout Africa for 12 centuries and even today are involved in both slavery and a genocide against Africans in Darfur.

Sources

Barnard, Frederick Lamport. A three years cruize in the Mozambique Channel for the suppression of the slave trade(London: R.Bentley, 1848). Reprinted 1969.

Beachey, The Slave Trade of Eastern Africa.

Ricks, Thomas. “Slaves and Slave Traders in the Persian Gulf,” in William Gervase Clarence-Smith, ed., The Economic of the Indian Ocean Slave Trade in the 19th Century (London: Frank Cass, 1989).

Anti-Slavery Reporter. This was a British abolitionist newspaper








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Created: 1:39 AM 4/19/2007
Last updated: 12:39 PM 10/24/2014